Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Mask of Zorro

Go To
Justice leaves its mark.
Cpt. Love: After all, it's only one man...
Don Rafael: It isn't just one man, damn it! It's Zorro!

The Mask of Zorro is a 1998 swashbuckler/western film directed by Martin Campbell based on the character of Zorro. It depicts the retirement of the aging vigilante Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins) and his training of a young thief, Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas) to succeed him behind the mask of Zorro.

The story begins with the departure of the Spanish government from California, Northern Mexico. Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson), the Spanish governor of California, makes one last attempt to defeat the legendary outlaw Zorro but fails. Zorro returns home to his wife Esperanza and baby daughter Elena, telling them that with the Spaniards out of Mexico, Zorro will retire. Not so fast: Enter Rafael, who has deduced that Don Diego is Zorro. In the fight that follows, Diego's wife is killed, his house burned to the ground and Rafael absconds with the baby. Diego is arrested and thrown into prison.

Twenty years later, Diego escapes and, now a bitter, impoverished old man with nothing to live for, returns in secret to California. So has Don Rafael, who has been put back into power by the wealthy Mexican landowners who are still loyal to him; he also has brought Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whom he has raised as his own daughter. Meanwhile, young outlaw Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas) has lost his older brother Joaquin to corrupt cavalry captain Harrison Love (Matt Letscher). Later, Diego meets up with Alejandro and offers to train him to become the new Zorro. Rafael and Love, in the meantime, hatch a scheme to purchase California from Mexico, using gold secretly mined from California itself, and then destroy the mine and all the workers inside. Diego and Alejandro can't let this happen and will do everything they can to stop them, while getting both closer to Elena and putting her feelings to the test.

In 2005, the sequel The Legend of Zorro was released.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Elena has a complete fight scene where she's on the same level as Zorro.
  • Adaptational Relationship Change: In the original stories, as well as pretty much every other adaptation, Alejandro is Diego's father. Here, he is his protoge and (eventually) son-in-law.
  • Affably Evil: Don Rafael Montero, who belies himself to be a perfect gentleman.
  • Affirmative-Action Legacy: Class rather than race (and nationality, from Spanish to Mexican), but it's largely the story of the Zorro mantle passing from a hidalgo to a peasant, a significant social gap for the time the movie's set in. It makes perfect sense, of course, as Zorro was always a defender of the people against abuses that often came from his fellow gentlemen.
  • The Alcoholic: Alejandro becomes one after his brother's death. It got bad enough he was willing to sell his brother's medallion for more alcohol before Diego intervened, since he recognized he himself had given them that medallion years ago.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: OK, Zorro is really a nice guy and a gentleman; but when Elena sees him for the first time, she mistakes him for a bandit or someone dangerous, and it's because of this that she is instantly smitten by him.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Done in a bittersweet way.
    Diego: Is it finished?
    Alejandro: Yes, Don Diego. It is finished.
    Diego: Not for Zorro. There will be other days. Other battles to fight. That is your curse and your destiny.
  • Arch-Enemy: Don Rafael Montero to Don Diego and Captain Love to Alejandro.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil:
    • Don Rafael and the rest of the Dons only care about their money, exploit and enslave the lower classes, outright laugh at the idea that the common people should have any say in their own fates, and are willing to blow up a mine full of workers, including children, just to clean up the "loose ends" in their plot to buy California. Three-Fingered Jack even gets a "Reason You Suck" Speech towards them that while he's a common thief that steals gold and money, he's nothing compared to the "gentlemen" who steal people's lives.
    • Averted with Zorro as Diego De La Vega is himself an aristocrat, though he fights for the people and seems fairly cynical towards his social class. Montero even accuses him of betraying his own class in protecting the people.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • At the beginning of the film, Santa Anna is made to be far more important than he was at that stage, stating he was marching to liberate California. In reality Santa Anna was a Spanish Loyalist until the tail end of the War of Independence.
    • Montero declares that Santa Anna is fighting a war against the United States, despite the fact that it's 1841 at this time and not 1846.
    • Joaquín Murrieta and Three-fingered Jack were semi-legendary bandits in the post-1848 California Gold Rush who were killed by California (former Texas) Ranger Harry Love in 1853. In the movie, this happens in still Mexican California, and Love is a mercenary serving a local landowner (yet dresses in an Union uniform, as the character's looks were deliberately patterned on the even later George A. Custer). The real Love also lived until 1868.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Alejandro.  When we first see him, he's a child attending an execution/riot in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Zorro.  Twenty years later, he's recruited to become Zorro.  The enthusiasm he shows when brought to his hero's cave says it all. 
  • At Least I Admit It: The Dons are being given a tour of a gold mine, when 3-fingered Jack, a captured bandit who's being forced to work the mine, calls them out on the fact that the mine workers are treated like slaves:
    Captain Love: Ignore him gentlemen, he's a common thief.
    Jack: Hah, as common as they come, but I ain't nuthin' compared to you 'gentlemen'! I steal gold, I steal money, but you... you steal people's lives!
  • Award-Bait Song: "I Want To Spend My Lifetime Loving You" by Marc Anthony and Tina Arena. And written by James Horner and Will Jennings, the team responsible for the Titanic (1997) theme, to boot.
  • Babies Ever After: In the closing sequence, Alejandro and Elena are shown to be living together with a son named Joaquin, in honor of Alejandro's brother.
  • Bad Habits:
    • Zorro qualifies by accident when he improvises his way through Elena's confession while hiding in the confessional.
    • The original Zorro disguises himself as a monk in the prologue before revealing himself.
  • Batman Gambit: Don Diego crashed Montero's party to spy on the dons, get the map, get some payback by setting the adjacent fields on fire, and even get close to his daughter. All came in handy later on.
  • Bastardly Speech: By Montero upon his return to California, claiming that he will be the one to fight for the people of California after their previous rulers have just lied to and abused them. Naturally, this couldn't be farther from the truth.
  • Beardness Protection Program: Alejandro shaves his beard and hair into a neater, smaller style to play Don Alejandro, then completely shaves for Zorro.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: To the extent that it's difficult to tell whether Alejandro and Elena's duel constitutes a fight to the death, or a very elaborate and violent form of foreplay.
  • Beneath Notice: This is how Diego is able to masquerade literally right in front of Montero. Because he is masquerading as a servant, it would not even occur to Montero to take more than a passing glance at him.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Alejandro's brother Joaquin shoots himself rather than let Captain Love decide his fate.
  • Big Bad: Don Rafael Montero, the Antagonistic Governor who imprisoned Diego years ago and employs Alejandro's nemesis Captain Love in his plot to buy California.
  • Big Damn Heroes: During the climax, Don Rafael has a shot lined up on Alejandro and is about to pull the trigger when Don Diego arrives and knocks his shot off course.
  • Big "NO!": Rafael does this twice: first when one of his men tries to shoot Diego and he realizes that Esperanza is in the way; second when Captain Love attempts to shoot Diego with Elena being dangerously close to the old man. The second time, he manages to stop the would-be shooter before history repeats itself.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Don Diego's arc. While he does kill the man who stole everything from him, his victory is short-lived as Don Raphael shot him earlier. On the verge of death, Don Diego can only spare but a few moments with his daughter before he succumbs to his wound. However, he posthumously is honored by the people with a funeral worthy of a hero.
  • Blatant Lies: Rafael claims that he "hasn't given [Diego] a second thought" since he had him imprisoned. The fact that his very first action on returning to California was to visit the prison to make sure Diego was dead, however, strongly implies that he was lying and was in fact quite afraid of him, even after twenty years.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Three-Fingered Jack and Captain Love show this when injured.
  • Blood Knight: Captain Love is clearly in search of a Worthy Opponent throughout the movie, and once he becomes convinced that Zorro is one, he tosses away a perfectly good chance to shoot Zorro in exchange for a sword-fight.
  • Blown Across the Room: An especially egregious example has Three-Fingered Jack ride down a mine cart and leap off the track with a pickaxe to attack Captain Love. Love pulls a revolver and shoots him with no visible recoil, and Jack's momentum reverses in midair, sending him tumbling to the ground in a heap.
  • Bodybag Trick: This is the way Diego escapes from prison. Bonus Buried Alive.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Don Rafael and Captain Love both get this. After knocking Diego out from behind when he's distracted, Montero merely has Diego put in prison instead of having him executed, leading to Diego escaping twenty years later to seek revenge against him. Captain Love also has a moment during his final climactic battle against Zorro where he has a chance to shoot Alejandro but forgoes shooting him in favor of fighting him with a sword that leads to Love's defeat.
  • Book Ends: The film opens and closes with Zorro drawing his Z mark. In the narrative, Zorro (both old and new) tells a story to his child at the start and close.
  • "Bringer of War" Music: Heard in "Leave No Witnesses", the cue for the final battle, though in this case the Holst tempo comes as Captain Love orders Don Rafael's enslaved workers locked into cages to be buried alongside the rest of the evidence of their illegal mining operation.
  • Building Swing: As Alejandro sees the cart full of gold about to land on him and Captain Love, he deploys his whip and swings to safety while Captain Love screams at the torrent of gold that crushes him.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Rafael acts as though Diego's arrest was just some business he dealt with years ago, but repeatedly shows this to be a lie when he demonstrates fear of the very idea of Zorro's return even when he believes it could only be Diego.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome:
    • Elena goes to confession to confess her recent bouts of misbehavior with Zorro. Of course, Zorro is sitting in the priest section. He prompts her that the masked man must have been "ruggedly handsome", but Elena points out that he was wearing a mask, so she doesn't know. Zorro looks deflated.
    • Inverted later when he's pretending to be a young nobleman at a ball. When the conversation turns to Zorro, he speculates that he probably wears the mask "to cover his bald head and unsightly features."
  • Butt-Monkey: Corporal Garcia, always being outwitted, embarrassed, and outright humiliated in every encounter he is involved in. Choice moments includes being stripped and tied to a cactus, enveloped by a giant map without getting so much as a single strike in, and slamming gutfirst into a tree branch at speed.
  • Buy Them Off: The crux of Montero's Evil Plan: bribe Santa Anna with gold bullion (unknowingly stolen from his own land) to finance his ongoing war with the USA in exchange for California being given to him to rule as an independent territory.
  • Call-Back:
    • In the Action Prologue, a young boy runs into a hooded man, assuming he's just another bystander in the crowd, before looking closer and realizing the hooded man is Zorro. Twenty years later in a gold mine, a slave worker is brought some water by another hooded man, who once again, upon closer inspection, is Zorro. The particularly heartwarming part, the boy who noticed the former Zorro became the latter one twenty years down the line.
    • Twice in the movie, Montero and Diego have a confrontation with a woman they both care about in the same room when The Dragon pulls a pistol and tries to shoot Diego. The first time, Esperanza dies, ending the fight and sending Diego into BSOD while Montero kills the man, but the second time, Montero slaps Love's gun away while screaming "Nooooo!" It's a nice touch that continues to show why Montero, while still evil himself, wasn't a bad parent to Elena.
    • Montero receives a wound in his left shoulder in both duels with Don Diego.
  • Came Back with a Vengeance: Don Diego was once the heroic outlaw Zorro who battled against tyranny and fought for the people while living a happy civilian life with a wife and child. However, after his final mission, he's outed by Montero and in the battle, his wife is killed, his daughter is taken from him, and Diego is put in prison for twenty years. After all those years, Montero returns, spurring Diego into action once again, escaping his prison and finding a new ally in Alejandro whom he trains as his successor. He also discovers that his daughter has grown up under his enemy Montero whom she considers her father. Overall, Don Diego's arc centers around this classic revenge story that takes inspiration from The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • Cane Fu: An aged Diego de la Vega disarms a drunken Alejandro this way.
  • Cavalry Officer: Captain Love is a twisted example, partially based on the director's vision of a young Custer.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: Zorro's hideout is a fairly visible cave behind a tiny waterfall.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Played for Laughs and used realistically. When Alejandro and Elena are sword-fighting, they both simultaneously realize "Hey, the other person actually knows what the hell they're doing with that thing," they both simultaneously pause, admire each other, take a step back, remove their movement restricting clothing (his hat and cape, her robe), and resume their fight, all in the space of ten seconds.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Alejandro is still with his brother and 3-fingered Jack there's a short discussion between the gang and the Mexican authorities explaining that the primary reason why they're wanted is because they're horse thieves (and reputedly very good ones). This provides an explanation for why he's so good with horses later on in the film.
  • Chekhov's Skill: While training under Diego, Alejandro pulls himself over, under, and around a network of ropes. This saves the young Zorro's life when he must do the same in the final duel against Captain Love at the mine.
  • Clark Kenting: Diego assumes the guise of Alejandro's manservant "Bernardo" by just changing his hairstyle and body language and donning glasses and appropriate clothing. Justified to some point because the result, to his credit, is actually quite believable, added to the fact that not less than twenty years have passed since the last time Montero saw him, and that it's also unlikely Montero will be looking for the face of a supposedly dead man on random servants. Moreover, it is Lampshaded with this bit of dialog:
    Alejandro: We'll never get away with this... What if [Rafael] Montero realizes who you are?
    Diego: Montero thinks of himself as a true nobleman; he will never look a servant in the eye.
  • *Click* Hello: In the prologue, the only warning that Don Rafael has come to arrest Diego is when one of his men cocks his gun.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: The original, now elderly and infirm, Zorro trains a successor to continue fighting the good fight. Wearing Zorro's trademark black hat, mask, rapier and whip, people think it's the same Zorro, come back to aid them once more, thus adding to his supernatural mystique. One elderly monk, who aided the original Zorro decades earlier, is astounded to meet the new one, commenting "Age certainly has been kinder to you than it has to me..."
  • Clothing Damage: Zorro fights Elena and manages to, essentially, cut her nightshirt off, though she still had pants (and Godiva Hair). In fairness, she attacked his clothes first.
  • Collective Identity: Anthony Hopkins plays the original Zorro (Don Diego de la Vega) and Antonio Banderas is his trainee, successor and later son-in-law, Alejandro.
  • Combat Compliment: Mixed with a pretty brutal cheap shot. When Captain Love is fighting Alejandro, he compliments him by saying "you're doing well, your brother would've shot himself by now."
  • Combat Pragmatist: Don Rafael has no problem bringing a gun to a Sword Fight. Indeed, basically half the movie's fight scenes start with "hey, there's a sword at this guy's throat, drop your guns".
  • Composite Character: In the original stories, Bernardo is the name of Don Diego's manservant. Here, it's a persona Diego himself adopts while disguised as Alejandro's servant. Possibly in-universe if there was a real Bernardo who was Diego's aide in his old times, which is never stated yet might have been what gave him the inspiration.
  • Confessional: Elena confesses her lust at seeing the new Zorro for the first time... only it's actually Zorro in the booth with her instead of the priest.
  • Cool Horse: Tornado, the horse of the original Zorro. Same goes for the Tornado of the New Zorro.
  • Cool Old Guy: Diego becomes one during his old age.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Applies, but dodged every time. Alejandro introduces himself to Montero using a formal greeting of the Spanish court that hasn't been used for years, but Alejandro deflects suspicion by claiming that his father was strict in matters of etiquette. Similarly, Montero notes after Alejandro's compliments and particularly with mention of the Queen's recommendation that he thought he was out of favor in the court, to which Alejandro covers by claiming this is only true in certain circles but the Queen knows the truth.
  • The Cowl: Zorro the black-clad masked outlaw with the boldness and skill to carve his initial into the property and, occasionally, persons of his opponents tends to inspire a certain amount of uneasiness. Not only was he too cunning for the authorities to catch, but he also delighted in publicly humiliating them.
  • Create Your Own Hero: Alejandro is motivated to become the new Zorro after Captain Love kills his brother.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Captain Love keeps body parts of his enemies in jars and drinks from them. To add to the creep factor, he invites Alejandro to drink from the jar containing his brother Joaquin's head. Truth in Television, horrifyingly enough: the real-life Love did, in fact, keep Joaquin and Jack's head and hand in jars of alcohol, although he only displayed them, rather than drinking from them.
  • Criminal Craves Legitimacy: Don Rafael Montero will use the money obtained illegally from Mexico's own land to buy California and install himself as president of a new republic.
  • Cruel Mercy: Montero lets Diego live in prison rather than killing him so that he can dwell on how everything he loves has been taken from him. Diego returns the favor at the end, having taken back Elena and ended Montero's schemes. It doesn't prevent Montero from suffering a Karmic Death, however.
  • Darker and Edgier: The original Alcalde is a grubby, greedy thief. Rafael Montero sees no problem with stealing other men's children, treason, and mass murder (though he does balk somewhat at the last one). Captain Pasquale is a saint compared to Captain Love.
  • Dawn of the Wild West: The movie starts during the closing days of the Mexican War of Independence.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Alejandro and Elena name their son Joaquin, after Alejandro's brother.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Don Diego, in spades.
    Don Diego: (speaking about Alejandro's sword) Do you know how to use that thing?
    Alejandro: Yes. Pointy end goes into the other man.
    Don Diego: (blank stare on his face) This is going to take a lot of work.
  • Death by Disfigurement: During the final fight, Alejandro cuts an M into Captain Love's face, a variant on the standard Z. Subsequently, the fight ends very, very quickly.
  • Death by Materialism: The wagon full of gold that Montero plans to buy California from Mexico with ends up dragging him off a cliff, and (for good measure) flattening Captain Love on its way down.
  • Decapitation Presentation: To Alejandro's horror, Captain Love shows him his brother Joaquin's head in a wine jar.
  • Deceptive Legacy: Rafael steals Diego's baby girl Elena, tells her that her mother died in childbirth, and raises her to believe he is her father. Diego is able to set the record straight with a little help from the woman who was baby Elena's nursemaid.
  • Deducing the Secret Identity:
    • It's implied that Don Rafael has done some off-screen deduction before the start of the film, as he comes to the home of Don Diego de la Vega with a contingent of soldiers. It's clear he already knows Diego's secret, but he confirms it by grabbing a fresh wound from their most recent battle.
      Don Rafael: Blood never lies, Zorro.
    • Years later, after Diego and his protégé Alejandro have infiltrated one of Rafael's social events, Alejandro as a young noble from Spain and Diego as his servant, followed by Alejandro's debut as the new Zorro, Diego goes to confront Rafael about his daughter, who Rafael had taken the night he came to Diego's estate. Once he reveals who he is, Rafael quickly realizes this old man, the former Zorro, could not have been the young and athletic Zorro who stormed through his compound the other night, so it must have been the young noble instead.
  • Defeat by Modesty: The (in)famous first duel between the new Zorro and Elena which ended with plenty of Clothing Damage and Godiva Hair.
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Elena tried to stop Diego (her biological father) from killing Rafael (her adoptive father). Rafael promptly puts a gun to her head, and tells him to drop his sword. Once he does...
    Rafael: Did you really think I would kill my own daughter? [shoots Diego]
  • Door-Closes Ending: The film ends with a door closing behind Alejandro as he strides out into the sunset.
  • Double Take: Rafael does one at his party when speaking with the Dons and glances at Elena and Alejandro's dance. After a moment, he realizes who is dancing and how passionate the dance is.
  • Downer Beginning: Poor Don Diego. After he promises Esperanza he won't go as Zorro anymore to be with his family, Don Raphael comes along. And it all goes downhill, from Esperanza dying from a misfired gunshot to Don Diego's house being burned down as he's arrested, to watching as Don Raphael claims the infant Elena as his own. And he never sees her again for 20 years.
  • The Dragon: Captain Love to Don Rafael Montero.
  • Dramatic Unmask: After stabbing Captain Love, Alejandro removes his Zorro mask to reveal himself to his foe.
  • The Dreaded: The unseen General Santa Anna, to the point that Rafael would rather destroy any and all evidence of his dealings rather than face the General's wrath.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: This is what Alejandro is doing when Diego first meets him, right after his brother was killed.
  • Dual Wielding: Both Diego and Alejandro with the crappy Zorro costume do it with a sword and a knife. Later, Alejandro, this time with the official costume, does it with two swords against Montero and Love.
  • Duel to the Death: The climax has two - Don Diego De La Vega vs. Don Rafael Montero and Alejandro Murrieta vs. Captain Harrison Love.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For the first part of the movie, Captain Love appears to just be a snobby soldier who has no qualms about killing when he needs to. It's only later when we see that he drinks out of jars with human body parts in them, that we realize that he's actually crazy.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Montero with Elena. Also the main reason of taking the kid.
      Montero: Did you really think I would kill my own daughter?
    • Elena stands up for Don Raphael when Don Diego is about to kill him, because despite knowing who her biological father is, a few hours of knowing the truth aren't going to erase the twenty years that Don Raphael did raise her well.
    • Even though she married Don Diego, Don Rafael still had affection for Esperanza, and he is remorseful that she will have to live without a husband when he comes to arrest Diego. When Esperanza is killed (accidentally) by one of Rafael's men, Rafael is visibly shocked and angered and kills the shooter.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Even Montero looks a little shocked at the suggestion that all the workers in the mine should die. He also seems genuinely amazed that Diego considers him capable of killing Elena.
      Montero: Get the children out of the plaza immediately!! (to Don Luis) The children should never have to see the things we do.
    • As mentioned during At Least I Admit It, Three-Fingered Jack. He may be a notorious outlaw, but he'll steal gold and money. He doesn't steal people's lives and is absolutely disgusted with the El Dorado project.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Montero raised Elena to be an Action Girl (she's had "the proper training" since she was four) Spirited Young Lady confident and educated enough to make her biological father proud of her, and she is clearly shocked at Montero's own moral alignment.
  • Expy Coexistence: Joaquin Murrieta is a historical Mexican bandit who has been speculated to be one of the sources of inspiration for the Zorro franchise.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Used by Don Diego to protect his secret identity when dressed in a padre's cowled robe… with the Zorro costume on underneath that.
  • Family-Values Villain: Don Rafael Montero won't allow children to witness public executions he's staged to bring out Zorro, or tell his twenty-year old daughter Elena that he put her real father in a dungeon to die and that one of his soldiers accidentally killed her mother (Montero also promptly stabbed that soldier for it).
  • Fashions Never Change: Averted. Napoleonic-esque costumes and uniforms in the first few minutes of the film has largely changed to more Victorian styles in the rest of the movie, set 20 years later.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Combined with Kick the Dog, Don Rafael tells Don Diego that he wants Diego to live, knowing he has lost everything, to suffer as Rafael had suffered, knowing Diego's child should have been his.
  • First Kiss: After beating her in their sword duel Zorro kissed Elena big time. Both because he loved her and to daze her into no longer wanting to fight.
  • Flaming Emblem: A particularly epic example occurs when Diego burns a giant Z into the countryside, to let Rafael know he's returned.
  • Flynning: Parodied when Alejandro flails his sword around, and Diego just knocks it out of his hand with a mere flick of his own sword. The rest of the movie plays Flynning straight, being a Swashbuckler and all, but there's a little bit more scuffling and dirty tricks than in the classic Flynning movies of the 30s and 40s.
  • Forced Friendly Fire: In the prologue, Zorro makes his presence known to the crowd when he wraps his whip around the muskets of the firing squad, forcing them to fire at the squad commander.
  • Fork Fencing: Don Diego challenges Alejandro to a duel...with a spoon.
  • From Hero to Mentor: The beginning of the film saw Diego's last adventure as Zorro. Twenty years later, when the man who killed his wife returns to California, Diego trains Alejandro to become the new Zorro.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Mexico gained independence from Spain but still treats California as an ignored province. To rub salt in the wound, Mexico invited Don Rafael back to become California's governor again.
  • Funny Spoon: Diego challenges Alejandro to a duel. Alejandro grabs his sword. Diego brandishes a spoon. After the initial gag/double-take, Diego explains that the only way Alejandro's going to get within striking distance of the man he wants vengeance on is by learning guile, subterfuge... and courtly table manners.
  • The Gadfly: Alejandro, as Zorro delights himself with irritating his opponents, notably Elena and Captain Love.
  • Gaussian Girl: Elena. Somewhat justified during her first fight with Zorro in a dusty, pre-dawn barn.
  • The Ghost: General Santa Anna is oft-mentioned but never seen, despite driving much of the film's plot. In a Deleted Scene, he's played by Joaquim De Almeida.
  • Giant Mook: Alejandro encounters one in the fort while stealing a horse for himself, whom he defeats by bludgeoning the Mook's head with cannonballs. Said Mook falls over, spitting out his own teeth.
  • Godiva Hair: Elena is left clad in pajama bottoms and her own hair when Zorro slices her nightshirt off.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Love decapitates Joaquin, the scene cuts to the medallion that Zorro gave to Joaquin and Alejandro falling to the ground, with Joaquin's blood on it.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Given it takes place in California, during both "Mexican province" and "joining the US" phases, it is justified.
  • Groin Attack: Don Diego disarms a drunken Alejandro by doing one of these with a cane.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: After her Shameful Strip Elena grabs Zorro's hat to cover her chest. He snatches it back from her as he's leaving, causing her to grab her robe to cover herself instead.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely:
    • Alejandro goes from being messy looking to looking like Antonio Banderas over the course of the movie. It is a testament to Antonio Banderas' acting skills that he manages to seem not charming until the makeover point.
    • Old, rather unkempt Don Diego gradually cleans up as Alejandro's training progresses. By the time he assumes the guise of Bernardo, his hair is pulled back, he's clean shaven, and he looks elegant even in servant's garb.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Three-Finger Jack and Joaquin Murrieta were historical outlaws operating in California during the Gold Rush, and their gang was believed responsible for most of the murders in the Mother Lode area of the Sierra Nevadas. In the film they form a cheery band of outlaws with Joaquin's brother Alejandro (who was invented for the film) who use guile to steal from the corrupt soldiers serving the government of California and seem content with humiliating their victims. The case of Murrieta, however, is more complicated due to how his figure was already drenched in myths and urban legends way before the movie was made. According to The Other Wiki, depending on the point of view, he was considered an infamous bandit or a Mexican patriot, even nicknamed "The Mexican Robin Hood".
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Harrison Love is based loosely on California Ranger Capt. Harry Love, a veteran of the Mexican-American War who was tasked to bring down the "Five Joaquins" gang, of whom Murrieta was the chief member. After successfully hunting down Murrieta and killing him and Three-Fingered Jack in a shootout, Murrieta's head and Jack's hand were preserved in alcohol and turned over for proof. Love was not exactly a psychotic killer as shown in the film, and the historical events occurred in 1853, well after California became a member of the United States (Mask of Zorro takes place over 10 years earlier).
  • Honor Before Reason: Captain Love pulls a gun on Zorro, but then discards it and faces him in a Sword Fight.
  • Hope Spot: In the prologue, Don Montero is about to be driven out of California and his last attempt to capture Zorro has failed, so Don Diego is ready to hang up the mask and become a family man. Then Montero tracks him to their home, and by the end of the night Esperanza is dead, Elena is stolen, and Diego is sent to prison for twenty years.
  • Horsing Around: Alejandro tries to summon his horse, Tornado, with a whistle, so he can jump out of a window onto its back. The horse comes at the whistle, but is having none of this "leaping onto his back" stuff, and steps aside, causing Alejandro to land with a painful set of Amusing Injuries. This is also a throwback to an earlier scene where Diego did it without a hitch.
  • Hypocrite: Don Diego advises Alejandro not to obsess over hatred and revenge because in order to be Zorro, he must put the people's needs before his own. Yet, he himself bothers training Alejandro and grooming him to be Zorro because he himself is motivated by the selfish goal of taking revenge on Don Rafael and reclaiming his daughter again. Alejandro actually calls him on this. Justified, as Don Diego recognizes he can no longer afford to think as Zorro, as he lost his home and family the last time he wore the mask.
  • I Am Spartacus:
    • Early in the film, after Zorro has been in prison for decades, Don Rafael returns to find him. Cue all the prisoners declaring "I Am Zorro!" However, contrary to the trope's common usage, it doesn't appear that they were doing so to protect Zorro, as it was never implied they even knew that the real Zorro was among them.
    • It's also implied that Montero knew every single one of them was full of crap, as the real Zorro would have recognized the man who killed his wife, and probably wouldn't be dumb enough to reveal himself to him in this kind of situation.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Captain Love likes to keep the severed body parts of his enemies in his drinking water and wine bottles, in hopes that consuming his enemies will allow him to see what he looks like through their eyes.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Complete with lots and lots of Flynning, Blade Locking and (of course) Zorro Marking.
  • Industrialized Evil: Don Dafael's mine he loftily calls "El Dorado" which uses slave labor.
    Alejandro: So this is your dream for California.
    Rafael: This is my vision, yes.
  • In the Hood: Don Rafael when he returns to California and visits the prison where Diego was locked up.
  • Inertial Impalement: One of the Spanish soldiers gets killed in the prologue when Zorro shoves him onto a sword that was stuck on a pole earlier in the fight.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Elena during an exchange with Zorro after he defeats her in a duel.
    Zorro: Do you surrender?
    Elena: Never, but I may scream.
    Zorro: I understand. Sometimes I have that effect.
  • It Was a Gift: The silver medallion Alejandro's brother receives as a child plays a significant role later.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Alejandro doesn't care that much about Don Rafael, it's Captain Love who is his Arch-Enemy.
  • Jar of the Bizarre: Murrieta's head and Jack's hand are found in large, alcohol-filled glass jars.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Almost all of the Spanish noblemen speak English in Spanish accents for the entire film, except for one whose accent is British, but there is a translation scene in which Elena is addressed by a Mexican peasant woman who does NOT speak English. She speaks Nahuatl for a moment, and then her daughter translates into Spanish-accented English. It's a pretty good choice, as by this point of history, no Californian Spanish noblewoman would be expected to speak an indigenous language.note 
  • Just One Man:
    Captain Love: After all, it's only one man...
    Don Rafael: It isn't just one man, damn it. It's Zorro!
  • Karma Houdini: The other Dons who join in Montero's scheme.
  • Karmic Death: Two of them: Captain Love is stabbed with his own sword, and Rafael is caught in the straps of a wagon full of gold which then drags him to his death. For bonus points, the wagon load of gold slams into Captain Love on the way down.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • For the first fourth or so of the picture, Captain Love seems less like an evil villain and more like a lawman who is only an antagonist because the hero of the movie is an outlaw. Then, while Alejandro is conversing with the captain, Love takes Joaquin's head out of his desk drawer, where it had been "marinating" in something presumably alcoholic, and Captain Love nonchalantly drinks a cupful of it. Drawn straight from the jar. To drive the point home, he tells our hero that he keeps the heads of everyone he kills, because he just loves killing people so very much. (Truth in Television, sort of... Captain Love was based upon a real life person named Harry Love — a member of the California Rangers — who did kill Joaquin Murrieta in a fire fight; history states that he did cut off Murrieta's head, though it wasn't because he wanted the trophy, but because he needed the proof that the deed had been done.)
    • Earlier in the film, Rafael has Diego sent to prison after burning his home down and stealing his daughter, Elena (who was an infant at the time), just to make Diego suffer knowing that he lost everything. He even refuses to let Diego hold Elena one last time before the prison carriage carts him off.
    • Subverted when Rafael holds Elena at gunpoint during his final fight with Diego. Turns out he was bluffing—he would never harm Elena. He even seems genuinely surprised that Diego would find him willing to carry out such a threat.
  • Kill the Parent, Raise the Child: Don Rafael Montero, the Governor of Spanish California, notices that the host of the party he's attending, Diego de la Vega, sports a wound similar to one that was given to Zorro earlier that day. During the fight that ends with Diego's capture, Diego's wife Esperanza is shot by one of Rafael's men. Since Rafael brought his men there to kill Diego, and Esperanza died taking the bullet for Diego, Rafael is sufficiently responsible that he can be considered the killer even if he didn't do it with his own hands. Don Rafael then takes Elena, Diego and Esperanza's daughter, and raises her as his own daughter back in Spain.
  • Land in the Saddle: Alejandro tries to summon his horse, Tornado, with a whistle, so he can jump out of a window onto its back. The horse comes at the whistle, but is having none of this "leaping onto his back" stuff, and steps aside, causing Alejandro to land with a painful set of Amusing Injuries. This is also a throwback to an earlier scene where the previous Zorro did it without a hitch.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Coincides with Karmic Death, Both Don Raphael and Captain Love are killed by the same gold that they were willing to kill thousands of people to get their hands on.
  • Leave No Witnesses: When it's planned that the mine is to be blown up, its peasant workers (including children) are also trapped to prevent witnesses.
    Don Rafael Montero: If Santa Anna finds out we've paid him with gold stolen from his own land, he'll have us butchered like cattle!
    Captain Harrison Love: Then we should destroy the evidence. Set explosives, bury the mine.
    Don Rafael Montero: (surprised) And the workers?
    Captain Harrison Love: We destroy all the evidence, Don Rafael. No witnesses.
  • Legacy Character: Zorro. Don Diego, the first Zorro, trains Alejandro to take up the mantle years later. It's also mentioned that other men have worn the mask of Zorro before.
  • Lessons in Sophistication: Don Diego de la Vega (the former Zorro), now an old Impoverished Patrician who had his child abducted and raised by his nemesis, teaches the new Zorro (Alejandro Murrieta, who was a thug and Zorro's fan) on how to be classy so he can infiltrate the party that his nemesis held.
  • The Lost Lenore: Esperanza is this to both Diego and Rafael, as Diego's beloved wife and the woman that Rafael wanted to marry. Rafael keeps a large portrait of Esperanza in his office at the hacienda.
  • Ludicrous Mêlée Accuracy: Alejandro relieves Elena of her night-dress with a few sword slashes. Zorro is very good at killing cloth.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Diego reveals this to Elena by completing an anecdote only he would know.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Rafael is more of a twisted genius than a mad scientist, but Elena is certainly beautiful.
  • Magnificent Moustaches of Mexico: Subverted — Diego puts on a fake fancypants moustache when he disguises as Don Diego.
  • Map Stabbing: Alejandro stabs a map in order to steal it.
  • Match Cut: After the words of the Title Card fade away at the opening of the film, the black screen becomes a black canvas wagon covering that Alejandro and Joaquin cut eye holes into so they can watch the crowd at the plaza of execution.
  • Mating Dance: Elena and Alejandro at the ball. Don Rafael, who witnesses it, is not happy.
  • Meaningful Echo: In the beginning in the movie, Don Diego was telling his adventures to his baby daughter before abruptly changing the ending, as his wife was watching in amusement. Then, at the end of the movie, Alejandro, the new Zorro, was telling a story to his newborn child, before quickly changing the story's ending, as he noticed his wife (Don Diego's daughter) was watching him.
  • Meaningful Name: It's never mentioned on-screen, but 'Alejandro' is also the name of Don Diego's father.
  • Mentor Archetype: The original Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega, plays the Mentor to his chosen successor, Alejandro Murrieta.
  • Mock Millionaire: Alejandro poses as a Spanish aristocrat, with Diego pretending to be his valet.
  • Mood Whiplash: Three-Fingered Jack, Alejandro, and Joaquin steal a wagon with a strongbox and go on their merry way after tying the lawmen they just conned naked to a cactus... until they immediately run into Captain Love who proceeds to capture Jack and is about to kill Joaquin before he shoots himself.
  • Moody Mount: Tornado (the second one).
  • Mook Chivalry: The film demonstrates why the first part of the Mook Code of Conduct, while not necessarily smart, is still not an entirely stupid idea. At one point in the movie, several dozen mooks rush the new Zorro at once, and in the ensuing dogpiling confusion, Zorro gets away cleanly.
  • Mook Lieutenant:
    • Cpl. Armando Garcia who commands a contingent of Montero's soldiers.
    • Don Rafael had one in the prologue credited as the "Heavyset Lieutenant", who accompanies him in the arrest of Diego and personally kills Esperanza, which gets him stabbed by Don Rafael.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The scene in which Zorro unsheathes his sword for the final showdown VS Captain Love, letting the sun's glare slowly glide along the blade which, according to the director's commentary, was not CGI and just Antonio Banderas showing off!
  • Mutual Kill: Diego and Rafael mortally wound each other during their climactic duel.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Alejandro shares his given name with Diego's father Don Alejandro de la Vega (which is how he's known in the sequel, for unexplained reasons). Diego's alias as Alejandro's manservant is Bernardo, who in the original series was the name of Diego's manservant. Other elements like the giant flaming Z and Zorro hiding in a confessional also appeared in older Zorro movies. The title "The Mask of Zorro" itself is just one letter away from the first Zorro movie, The Mark of Zorro.
    • Alejandro's brother is a bandit named Joaquín Murrieta. There was a real bandit in California named Joaquín Murrieta (although he was active years after the film is set), and that Murrieta is considered a likely inspiration of the literary Zorro.
  • Naked Freak-Out: When Elena notices Zorro sliced off her shirt she gasps and quickly covers herself with his hat. Moments later as he's leaving, he snatches his hat back from her, rendering her topless again moments before her father and Captain Love bursts into the room, prompting her to use her robe to cover herself.
  • Naked People Are Funny:
    • When Elena gets her dress cut off by Zorro she is left in a state of half undress (she wears a modest form of old fashioned underwear but her upper half is completely exposed but for very long hair placed over her chest) we are invited, rightly or wrongly, to chuckle at her predicament, especially after she went in believing that she would win the duel, and even more so when she briefly forgets how embarrassed she is after Zorro kisses her passionately - only to be reminded of indecent exposure when Zorro snatches his hat from her (which she was using to cover herself) and then she is almost caught topless by her foster father and his soldiers. To be fair, she held her own pretty well before Zorro stripped her.
    • In Alejandro's introduction, the military officer present, Corporal Armando Garcia, winds up tied together with his men around a cluster of cacti, stripped naked, in a manner that will leave their privates impaled by the cacti if they move.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: One trailer frames Montero as ordering Love to kill Joaquin, so Alejandro considers him his killer instead. Not only was Montero not even present, the footage of him was taken from the prologue. Alejandro only considers him as Diego's nemesis and the man that his brother's killer is working for.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Alejandro's infiltration of Montero's hacienda. By striking here and now, it rightfully convinces Montero that the new Zorro knows about the Mine and that the plan's in danger of being exposed — which prompts Love to propose killing all the Miners.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Diego was locked up in prison, apparently in a twenty-year Heroic BSoD. Then Montero came back to California and visited the prison to make sure Diego was dead. The sight of Montero snaps Diego out of it and gets him to break out and start seeking revenge. If Montero hadn't gone to the prison in the first place, Diego would never have gotten in his way and probably wouldn't have even known Montero had returned until it was far too late, if at all.
    • Likewise Captain Love when he kills Alejandro's brother.
  • Noble Demon: Rafael is an evil aristocrat, but he's also a loving father who refuses to harm children and expresses disgust at his Dragon's sadism. Even his Moral Event Horizon moment—holding Elena at gunpoint—is a subversion because it turns out to be a bluff.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: If the horses in this movie could talk, it would make for very snarky conversation. Also weird...
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: A review cracked that it would be easy for Montero to figure out who Zorro was, because he's the only one in Old California with a British (Welsh) accent!
  • Oblivious Adoption: Elena naturally has no idea Rafael stole her from Diego as a baby, and believes that her mother died giving birth to her.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: Even with the mask, it's clear the opening sword fight was mostly handled by Anthony Hopkins' stunt double.
  • The Old Convict: Don Diego becomes one of these, after he gives up hope when he is arrested, his home destroyed, and his wife and child apparently killed. After twenty years, though, he finds the strength to break out.
  • Old-School Chivalry:
    Alejandro: All that shooting guns, racing around on horses - gives me a frightful headache. It’s hardly the work of a gentleman.
    Elena: What is? Climbing in and out of carriages?
    Alejandro: No, but increasing one's holdings so as to provide comfort to ladies. Such as yourself.
  • One-Man Army: Both Diego and Alejandro have no difficulty taking on large groups of soldiers and other thugs single-handedly; it's a trademark of the character.
    Diego: There are maybe twenty-five, thirty guards... nothing Zorro can't overcome.
  • Out of the Inferno: All the imprisoned miners emerge from the smoke after one of the most intense explosions ever filmed blew everything around them to splinters.
  • Passing the Torch: The entire point of the film seemed to involve this.
    [Alejandro and Diego are arguing about Diego going after Elena versus helping the slaves at the mine.]
    Alejandro: What about California? What about the people?
    Diego: [meaning Alejandro] They still have Zorro.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Coupled with Papa Wolf, Rafael genuinely loves Elena, despite the fact that she isn't really his daughter. He takes her in, raises her well (to the point of distancing her from his dirty dealings), all without spoiling her. Two good examples of how genuine it is are when Captain Love takes an opportunity to try and shoot Diego, and Rafael, fearing that Love may accidentally shoot Elena, immediately pushes him away; and when he holds her at gunpoint to get Diego to drop his sword, then bluntly and angrily reveals that he never intended to shoot her.
    • One more good example: Elena is good at sword-fighting, having been taking lessons ever since she was 4. For someone trying to raise his adoptive daughter to be a "proper lady" (something her own spirited mother wasn't), it's notably nice that he even permitted his daughter to take up fencing lessons.
  • Point That Somewhere Else: Alejandro does this to Elena when she holds a rapier to his neck, and it turns into flirtation between them.
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: After they duel, Zorro and Elena kiss passionately and after it's over Zorro coyly snatches back the hat she's using to cover herself, but she's too dazed by the kiss to react to her nudity until her father bursts into the room.
  • Powder Trail: Used by Montero and Love in an attempt to destroy the gold mine with the slave workers still inside.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The film neatly introduced Zorro to a new generation by making Don Diego the mentor to a new Zorro and adding healthy lashings of tongue-in-cheek humour.
  • Protected by a Child: Although she was an adult at the time (twenty years old) the trope is otherwise played straight between Elena and Diego. When Diego is about to kill Rafael, Elena throws herself between them, begging her biological father not to kill the man who raised her.
  • Psycho for Hire: Captain Love doesn't care about Rafael's plans and is in it for the pay and the chance to collect trophies.
  • The Queen's Latin: Both Don Diego and Don Rafael speak with British accents despite being Mexican, partly because they are of the nobility, partly because they're played by British actors Anthony Hopkins and Stuart Wilson. The other Dons all have Hispanic accents, however.
  • Raised by Rival: The daughter of the original Zorro, Don Diego, is kidnapped by his enemy Don Rafael as revenge. Rafael raises Elena as if his own daughter, loving her just as much. Part of his may be in memory of her mother Esperanza, who was loved by both Diego and Rafael.
  • Recycled In Space:
    • Main character is a hopeless loser who gets trained up to be awesome by an old master? Not a particularly common plot for a swashbuckler, but extremely popular for kung fu movies.
    • In a similar vein, during Alejandro's fight in the outpost with the dozens of guards, everybody stops swordfighting for a second and just pauses, going this way and that based on how Alejandro moves. A little reminiscent of Jidaigeki swordfights.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: James Horner re-used parts of his score for Willow.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Archenemies Don Diego and Don Rafael. Diego is the passionate Non-Idle Rich with a more aggressive dueling style while Rafael is pragmatic, Aristocrats Are Evil, with a more defensive dueling style.
  • Regency England: Although the beginning takes place in California towards the end of Mexican War of Independence in 1821, the fashions for this part fit this era of history.
  • Relative Button: Captain Love taunts Zorro with this during their duel after learning that he is Alejandro, the surviving Murrieta brother.
    Captain Love: You're doing well. Your brother would have shot himself by now.
  • Reluctant Fanservice Girl: Elena becomes one after Zorro gives her a very humbling Shameful Strip.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Done on a massive scale as people thought dead were just abducted to work in Don Rafael's mine.
    Three Finger Jack: Now they call us "the disappeared" but as you can see, we ain't exactly disappeared. We've just been a little hard to find.
  • Retired Badass: Don Diego de la Vega is a borderline example, as he is the original Zorro that is captured for decades until training a new Zorro, his protégé Alejandro, years later. Straddles the line with an Older and Wiser mentor.
  • Revealing Injury: Don Rafael proves Don Diego de la Vega is Zorro when he grabs Diego's left arm, causing him pain, and the arm starts bleeding. And Rafael knows Zorro was injured in the same spot earlier that day...
    Don Rafael: Blood never lies... Zorro.
  • Revised Ending: The DVD includes an alternate ending where Alejandro and Elena meet General Santa Anna while walking away from the mine with all the rescued prisoners. Joaquim De Almeida plays Santa Anna in this scene.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Masquerading as a dead prisoner, Don Diego de la Vega is buried. As soon as his grave is left alone, he breaks out of it.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Played with. Zorro holds democratic values that lead him to fight for the people against the abuses of the Old World aristocracy embodied by his archenemy, Rafael Montero, who's overthrown in the Mexican War of Independence. But the revolution ultimately changes very little, Montero and his peers are able to retain or worm their way back into positions of influence, and continue to abuse the people with impunity. The only thing the people can ultimately depend on isn't any new government or institution, but Zorro the legendary outlaw and folk hero. A crude summarization might be "the Enlightenment has some very wonderful ideals... which deserve a good Romantic hero to fight for them."
  • Say My Name: At the climax Diego and Rafael have an understated version, where it's practically a whisper. It actually makes it more powerful.
    Rafael: de la Vega.
    Diego: Rafael. (punches him).
  • A Scar to Remember: Done twice: firstly by Diego, who leaves a Z-shaped scar on the neck of Don Rafael during a fight; then by Alejandro, who leaves an M-shaped scar on the cheek of Captain Love.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Captain Love does this— a lot. The biggest one is just before the cart full of gold flattens him.
  • Self-Proclaimed Knight: Don Diego de la Vega as the mysterious black-clad rider who fights injustice in Spanish California and Don Alejandro Murrieta de la Vega takes up this role, continuing it to The Legend of Zorro.
  • Shameful Strip:
    • Elena is stripped, albeit humorously, by Zorro after their duel. First when he slices off her nightshirt, and later in the same scene when he takes off the hat she's covering herself with.
    • Played for Laughs as well when the Murrieta brothers tie a group of captured Mexican soldiers by the wrists and place them around a cactus, facing it and stripped from the waist down. If any of the soldiers tries to get away from the cactus, the one on the other side will get the... touch of the cactus in his privates.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Elena uses a brace of pistols to shoot the locks on the cages where the slaves are kept at the mine.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: The feminine Elena surprises Alejandro with her fierceness when she pulls a sword on him.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Played rather cleverly during and after Elena and Zorro's swordfight.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Three-Fingered Jack, enslaved in a gold mine run by Don Rafael Montero, expounds to the gathered Dons about how his crimes pale in comparison to theirs of enslavement.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The Nahua woman the de la Vegas hired as Elena's nanny during her infancy; she only briefly appears before Diego's arrest, and later meets an adult Elena in the market as an old woman. However, the little information she tells Elena in that meeting provides the catalyst that helps Elena realise that Diego rather than Montero is her true father.
  • Smash the Symbol: The opening scene has a peasant climbing a flagpole during a riot in order to rip down a Spanish flag.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Captain Love appears to have joined the army for the violence, and even after his discharge, approaches his mercenary work with the same outlook.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Elena wants to keep the commandments and tries to behave the way her father would like her to but her heart is too wild. She can both dance gracefully with Captain Harrison Love or sword fight with Zorro. She also makes her view of politics known at dinner.
  • Spiteful Spit: Joaquin does this to Captain Love, after he's surrounded by him and his soldiers.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Alejandro's Zorro has a strange way of making this happen a lot.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • While Diego is able to teach Alejandro how to act like a Don based on his own experience, Diego's knowledge of formal traditions and the situation in Spain is naturally at least two decades out of date, requiring Alejandro to improvise when Montero questions details of his cover story.
    • The state of Zorro's Cave when Diego first brings Alejandro to what's left of the de la Vega estate. With the hacienda torched and the estate having been abandoned for the last 20 years, the Cave has naturally fallen into disrepair and been reclaimed by nature. Diego and Alejandro have to clean the place up and bring it up to speed (albeit off-screen) before they can even begin the training program.
  • Sword Cane: Alejandro has one when he poses as a Don. He doesn't use it though. In fact, the only reason we know it's a swordstick at all is that he checks it briefly before attending the banquet.
  • Sword Fight:
    • Alejandro and Diego have a sword fight in a bar and all Diego is using is his cane! They later have several training fights.
    • Later Alejandro (as Zorro) has a sword fight with Captain Love and Montero!
    • In the next scene Alejandro fights Elena in a barn which he wins and then he cuts her shirt off, kisses her, then leaves!
    • At the last scene, old and new Zorro are fighting their archenemies to the death, Zorro 2 (Alejandro) manages to kill Captain Love first but unfortunately Montero kills Diego first but is then killed due to being tied to a falling crate of gold.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: A couple during Zorro and Elena's duel.
    Elena: (after Zorro has slashed Elena's nightgown) Not bad.
    (another move and now they're in each other's faces)
    Zorro: Not bad at all. (plants a kiss on Elena's mouth)
  • Take Up My Sword: It isn't clear if the sword the new Zorro uses is in fact the same one as the one used by the original, but he received the mantle of Zorro all along.
  • Taking the Bullet: A rare unintentional example: Esperanza hears baby Elena crying and rushes across the room to get to her at the exact same time one of Rafael's men fires at Don Diego.
  • Taking the Kids: In an unusual (and villainous) example, Don Rafael takes Diego's daughter Elena and raises her as his own, telling her that her mother died in childbirth.
  • Taking You with Me: Mortally wounded by Don Rafael, Diego sees that his enemy is standing in the straps of a cart of gold they've been fighting around. So he hits the cart, causing the straps to catch Don Rafael's leg and drag him off the cliff the cart is standing at.
  • Tap on the Head: Subverted. Don Rafael hits Don Diego on the back of the head with basket hilt of his sword. Diego is not knocked out immediately, but is clearly stunned for a short time, remaining conscious long enough for Rafael to tell him that he wants him to live and suffer after losing everything.
  • Targeted to Hurt the Hero: Alejandro witnesses the sacrifice and beheading of his own brother, Joaquin, by Captain Love, and later (after being trained by the elder Zorro and now disguised as a nobleman) the murder of his friend Three-Fingered Jack. Captain Love suspects that Alejandro is Joaquin's brother despite passing as a nobleman- so he displays Joaquin's severed head and Jack's mutilated hand to Alejandro to get a reaction. Alejandro calmly responds to Captain Love's prodding, but it's clear by the end of it that he's itching to kill him.
  • Teeth Flying: Zorro picks up two cannonballs in each hand and hits a Giant Mook with them. The man spits out several teeth and passes out.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Not only does Captain Love get stabbed clean through by Zorro (with his own sword, no less), but he also gets piledriven by a wagon loaded with gold ingots.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Diego is imprisoned for twenty years, emerging with long hair and a grey beard, which he keeps and trims for a period, before shaping into a moustache and goatee and finally shaving off entirely as part of a disguise.
  • Title Drop: "There are many who would proudly wear The Mask of Zorro."
  • Tragic Hero: Poor Don Diego.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The silver medallion gifted from Zorro to Joaquin becomes one to Alejandro after he is killed.
  • Trickster Mentor: Diego, who employs Training from Hell towards Alejandro.
  • Truth in Television: While attending confession, Elena says she broke the Fourth Commandment to honor her father and mother. This may confuse people who are used to the Philonic division of the Commandments, used in Protestant and Jewish traditions, where the Fourth Commandment is to "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy." However, Elena is Catholic, and Roman Catholics use the Augustinian division of the Commandments, which does have "honor thy mother and thy father" as the fourth.
  • Unflinching Walk: At the end, Alejandro and Elena and many refugees walk away from the collapsing scaffolding of the mine that Don Montero was going to blow up, leaving the enslaved Indians inside.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: While Montero's visit to the prison certainly leads to Diego escaping, it's Captain Love's attempt to take the Murrieta Gang into custody that really starts the chain of events that ultimately gets them both killed and brings down The Plan. If Love hadn't shot Joaquin (leading him to commit suicide), the Murrierta Gang would've escaped to steal another day and Alejandro wouldn't have gotten the Zorro medallion. Alejandro would not have wound up Drinking My Sorrows in that cantina at the same time as the escaped Diego (who had no resources or allies and had just failed to kill Montero after seeing Elena). And had Diego not seen Alejandro with the medallion, he never would've found an ally he could train as a new Zorro. Good going, Captain!
  • Use Their Own Weapon Against Them: In their climactic battle, Alejandro gets ahold of Love's sword and mortally stabs him with it.
  • Villainous Valour: Both Don Rafael and Captain Love are deadly and resourceful combatants who give their respective Arch-Enemy a very difficult fight.
  • Weaponized Ball: Alejandro grabs a pair of grapeshot cannonballs during a fight with a huge, brutish soldier and proceeds to bludgeon the latter about the face with them, resulting in several lost teeth.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Your daughter is lost, De la Vega. You cannot have mine." This ends up being an In-Universe Wham Line for Elena, as Rafael unwittingly confirms the testimony of her old Nanny during her trip to the marketplace earlier in the film.
    • Montero's on the receiving end of one a minute earlier, when he smugly tells Diego nothing he does will stop The Plan...only for Diego to reveal that's not his goal.
      Diego: I'm not here to stop you. Call for Elena.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: A swordfighting example. As Alejandro begins his apprenticeship with Diego, he shows off some flashy yet flailing maneuvers. The old Zorro then disarms him with one strike, and starts showing him how it's really done.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Actually justified! ... somewhat.
    • Esperanza's death at the beginning shows why it's a terrible idea to try and use a gun on one man, in a room otherwise full of people you're trying not to kill. There are several other fights in the movie, most notably in the barracks and in Montero's courtyard, where the soldiers using melee weapons and fisticuffs was probably the smart move, even if it gives Zorro the advantage, because it avoids this outcome.
    • Played straight at other times, however, in that there's no such justification for Captain Love refusing to shoot Zorro when they're alone on a ridge, and challenging him to a sword fight instead. Or for Montero having the previous Zorro imprisoned for life instead of executed.
      • Captain Love not shooting Zorro makes a bit more sense when you take into account that he's a Blood Knight and also just Ax-Crazy. (The man drinks wine from jars with human remains in them.) Bad decision? Yes. Totally in character? Also yes.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: Subverted. Rafael goes out of his way to avoid harming children. Early in the film, he orders his men to remove all children from the execution plaza because he feels that children should not be exposed to the cruel acts he is willing to commit. He also adopts his archenemy's daughter and raises her well, and when Captain Love suggests killing the mine workers (many of them small children), Rafael is visibly disturbed...though, of course, he agrees to go through with it anyway, not to mention he was forcing them to work those mines in unsafe conditions to begin with, and even ordering the children out of the plaza might be more of a Faux Affably Evil moment for the veneer of his reputation than genuine kindness, given how ruthless he is otherwise.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Alejandro cheerfully mocks his opponents whenever coming to grips with them.
  • You Have Failed Me: Don Rafael stabs a Mook Lieutenant, after the soldier shoots Esperanza.
  • You Killed My Father: Alejandro's wants revenge against Captain Love after he kills his brother.
  • Zen Survivor: Diego becomes one in his old age, years after Rafael ruined his life.
  • Zorro Mark: Besides the obvious "Z"s, Alejandro cuts an "M" for Murrieta into the cheek of his brother's killer.


Video Example(s):


Zorro's Bedtime Stories

In The Mask of Zorro, after the opening action sequence, Diege recounts recounts his adventures to his baby, Elena, then sees his wife, and says that he never did anything that foolish again. At the end of the movie, his successor, Alejandro, sometime after marrying the now adult Elena, does the same thing, to his infant son, Joaquin.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / Bookends

Media sources: